If you’re from out of town and thinking of visiting the Lost Art Press storefront for an open house or for a class, read on.
Where to Stay
Just a short walk from the Lost Art Press storefront (at 837 Willard St.) is Hotel Covington – a very nice hotel in a fully renovated historic property, with an excellent restaurant. (And no, we don’t get kickbacks.) Other options are to stay at one of the nice and fairly inexpensive chain hotels on the Covington riverfront, book a room through AirBnB, Vrbo or stay in downtown Cincinnati.
The chain hotels on the Covington riverfront include: Hampton Inn, Courtyard, Extended Stay, Marriott, Embassy Suites and Holiday Inn. All are clean, safe and offer decent amenities within walking distance.
If you opt to stay in Cincinnati, I highly recommend the 21c Hotel. It is a full-service hotel. Amazing restaurant (the Metropole). Fantastic breakfast. Great bar and bartenders. And there’s a semi-secret rooftop bar (the entrance is in the alley). If you’re a fancy lad or lass, you’ll love the Hilton Netherland Plaza. And even if you’re not fancy, the incredible Art Deco bar is worth a visit. Another four-star option (also with a good restaurant) is The Cincinnatian. I’ve never seen the rooms there, but I’ve heard good reports.
Where to Eat
To make this list manageable, I’m going to focus only on establishments that are in Covington and downtown Cincinnati. If I covered other neighborhoods, it would be a book.
Otto’s: This is one of my favorite places for lunch, dinner and brunch. It has a small menu of Southern food, but everything is outstanding. Get the tomato pie for lunch. Otto’s is also one of my contenders for best burger in the city.
Bouquet: Great wine bar and good food made with local ingredients. I love the trout.
Gutierrez Deli: A small, family owned Mexican grocery and carry-out deli that makes the best birria we’ve ever had.
Olla: Owned by the same family as Gutierrez deli, with even more delicious Mexican offerings and table service.
Frida 602: A bustling Mexican place that specializes in mezcal and tacos. Get the queso. You’ll thank me.
Cock & Bull: Decent fish and chips and a draft beer list that is insane (Delirium Tremens on draft – dang).
Libby’s Southern Comfort: If you like fried chicken (and how can you not?!), go here. And get a bourbon slush, too.
Goodfella’s Pizza and the Wiseguy Lounge: Downstairs is a small pizzeria with New York style pizza (yes, you can order a slice) and beer. Upstairs is one of the best bourbon bars in the state and a great place to relax.
Crafts & Vines: One of the friendliest bars in the city. Wine on draft (you read that right). Plus an inventive beer selection.
Butler’s Pantry: An upscale mini-mart that has a fine selection of bourbon, as well as a tasty array of sandwiches.
Spoon Kitchen & Market: A small grocery that offers a good selection of sandwiches, flatbread and grain bowls.
Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar: An astonishing bourbon selection. The patio out back is one of my favorite places to hang out with a crackling fire and a bourbon.
Larry’s: A “dive bar.” In quotes because it still looks like a dive bar, but it smells a lot better. Probably due to the delicious tater tots and hot dogs they serve up. The red beans and rice is also delicious.
Covington Coffee: Super-friendly family-run place. Great pastries and the best bagels (Lil’s) in the city.
Chako Bakery Cafe: Fantastic, family-run Japanese bakery and restaurant (within easy walking distance of LAP).
Gyros on Main: Good gyros (natch) and good shawarma. And open on Mondays (unlike many other restaurants around here).
Lorenzo’s Deli: Made-to-order sandwiches. So far, we’ve had only the Italian and the reuben; both are delicious.
Point Perk: My other favorite coffee shop in town. The hours are limited, but the espresso and chai drinks are fantastic.
Coppin’s in the Hotel Covington: This hotel is the jewel of the city. The restaurant and bar are highly recommended for breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch. Get the corn fritters, the 16 Bricks bread and … oh just get everything.
The Standard: A pub-style menu served up in a former gas station (with fun auto-mechanic-related decor). Great drinks, good food, and dog friendly. Also a great place to go if you have kids in tow.
Bircus Brewing/North South Baking: Excellent wood-fired pizza – and Wed.-Sunday mornings, at the same location is the incredible North South Bakery. (If you’re in a class here, you’ll almost certainly get to try their baked goods.)
Inspirado: Eclectic menu. Osso buco and street tacos? Yes please. A very friendly place – lunch, dinner and brunch.
Zola: A bar and grill with inexpensive (but excellent) burgers and other pub food. (Note: You may encounter smokers here.)
Amerasia Kung Food: Don’t be fooled by the appearance of this divey-looking Chinese place. People come from all over the city for lunch and dinner. It also has one of the best selections of beer in the city. If you like noodles, get the pork ho fun (and ask them to make it a little extra crispy).
Riverside Korean: Authentic Korean. A karaoke room (yes, we’ve done it). Riverside never disappoints.
House of Grill: Tasty Persian food served up by the friendliest family in the restaurant business.
ChiMaek: Chicken and beer – both delicious. (Get the flight of dipping sauces with the chicken.)
Keystone Grill: Family-friendly place for lunch, dinner or brunch. The mac and cheese varieties are great.
The Gruff: A pizza place in the shadow of the Roebling bridge. Fantastic pizzas (try the Italian meat pizza or the Margarita) plus local craft beer and one of the most inspiring views in the city.
Wunderbar: Excellent burgers, and mostly German-inspired food. (And French … the brie and bacon sandwich is delish).
Whew, Now Cincinnati
I’m going to keep this brief. This blog entry is turning into an opus already. All of these restaurants are less than a mile from the river. I’m also skipping places that are so popular (The Eagle, Bakersfield, Taft Ale House) that you can’t easily get in.
Sotto: The best restaurant in the city. Period. The first time my daughter tried the short rib cappellacci she cried. No lie.
Boca: The big brother to Sotto. A bit fancy, but unforgettable in every respect.
Gomez salsa. Take-out only, from a walk-up window. Try the “Turtle Bowl.”
Maplewood: The best breakfast in the city. No question.
Taglio: Crave-worthy Detroit-style pizza.
Mita’s: Beautiful Spanish restaurant with achingly good paella.
Nada: Upscale Mexican with a fantastic brunch.
Krueger’s Tavern: Delicious hamburgers and homemade sausage.
Taste of Belgium: Fried chicken and waffles. Great breakfast. Belgian ale on tap.
Morelein Lager House: A local brewery with a restaurant – the view of the Roebling Bridge and Covington alone is worth the trip.
Salazar: I vacillate between Salazar and Sotto as my favorite places in the city.
Findlay Market & Eli’s: A old open-air market and the pride of Cincinnati. On weekends we walk around, eat whatever smells good and buy sausages (Kroeger meat) for the week. Eli’s is adjacent and it’s my favorite barbecue joint.
Entertain Your Family
The Newport Aquarium is a short walk from downtown. The Fire Museum is awesome if you have kids who like fire trucks. If your kids are a little older (8 to 10), try the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC). Start at the top floor where they have a wild area for kids to create art. We’ve spent days there. Plus the contemporary art throughout is top shelf. And the Zaha Hadid-designed building is fantastic to explore.
If it’s nice outside, go down to the riverfront on the Cincinnati side to the Smale Riverfront Park to blow off steam and ride the merry-go-round. Plus there are a ton of places to eat there at The Banks.
The ace in the hole for entertaining the kiddos is the Cincinnati Museum Center. You can spend two or three days solid here without boring the kids (or yourself). The Children’s Museum is there, plus the History Museum, an IMAX theater, the Natural History Museum, an ice cream parlor and all the old train station stuff that kids love. We lived there every weekend when our kids were young.
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is world renowned for some of its breeding programs (and for Fiona the hippo) – but odds are decent the kids will be most taken with World of the Insect. Shudder.
If your kids like art, head up to Mt. Adams (one of the hills 5 minutes from downtown) for the Cincinnati Art Museum. They have kids programs, including a dedicated space for kids to run wild, art style. Check it out here. And the museum features free admission.
All the above places can be visited easily with public transportation.